Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

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3,724 Ratings
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Ratings: 3,724
Reviews: 391
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.17%
Wants: 421
Gots: 1,446 | FT: 247
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.

(Beer added by: jplopez21 on 10-04-2013)
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Ratings: 3,724 | Reviews: 391 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of 1Sunshine
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of woosterbill
4.23/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Looks more like a Stout than a typical Barleywine, with a black body topped by a finger of fine tan head that settles into a persistent ring. Clear, bright chestnut highlights do distinguish it from the appearance of regular BCBS when held up to light, but it's still remarkably dark for the style. Very impressive head retention for its strength, though.

S: Decadence. Huge, sweet, and complex, with lots of molasses, toffee, candied fruit, marshmallow, coconut, caramel, and oaky vanilla. A touch of leather and chocolate, too. Wow.

T: More purely sweet here, with caramel up front, molasses and vanilla midway through, and dark fruits filling in toward the finish. Long, bittersweet, heavily oaky and mildly warming aftertaste. Delicious, but not quite as outstanding as the aroma.

M: Thick, sticky, and lusciously carbonated. One of the stickiest beers I've ever had - my lips are literally fused together right now. While it certainly suits the beer, I can't say I find this aspect of it particularly appealing. Just OK.

O: I was really in love with this beer when I just had a couple ounces of it last week, but now that I'm nearly done with a whole bottle I'm finding the sticky sweetness a bit much, even for a barrel-aged English Barleywine. So many of the beautiful nuances of the aroma are just drowned out in the caramel gooeyness that I'm left strangely unsatisfied. Or perhaps oversatisfied. I can't quite tell.


Photo of wethorseblanket
4.39/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed from notes. Served on tap at Whole Foods Venice as part of a GI tasting event. Rep exclaimed he was sorry for the barleywine keg as he expected the stout to have been sent instead. Not sad for our loss in the least.

A: Pours dark brown with reddish highlights under a thin (quarter inch) tan head which fades to rim leaving spots of lace. Hmmm.

N: Caramel, vanilla, malt, sweet woody roast. Ahhh.

T: Follows nose with some chocolate sweetness, bourbon, coconut and cherries, dark fruits (plums and raisins). Complex and contemplative. Mmmm.

M: Semi-full body, semi-medium carbonation. Finishes sweet caramel, roast and darkly fruited.

O: I admit my bias, since barleywines are not my go to style, but this was very pleasant and completely enjoyable. Considering putting into the cellar and see how this develops with some age.

Photo of uturn
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of MWolverines66
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of alexm1309
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of Adan
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of tommyguz
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of BigGingDrinker
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of smitty5245
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of SenorEsteban
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of NW2285
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of JessxSpikes
3.25/5  rDev -28.3%

Photo of anticipation23
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of brandoman63
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of markgugs
4.44/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle, procured by giving up the naming rights to my firstborn, poured into a New England Brewing Co. snifter

A: As I was (vigorously) pouring this, I wondered, "hmm, no carbonation at all?" Yes, it was that thick. Only at the very end did a small wispy head cover the top of the beer, and it *poof* disappeared quickly, only leaving a thin beige ring around the edge of the glass. A beautifully murky cola in color, it looks like root beer.

S: Wow, amazeballs. Loads upon loads of toffee, caramel, brown sugar-covered raisin bread. Like a diabetes-inducing sugary dessert. Yum. Where's the bourbon though? I don't detect it at all, at least not within 30 minutes of popping it.

T/M: Initial burst of sweetness right out of the gate, but still, the alcohol is insanely well-hidden. Definitely melted toffee & caramel are very prevalent, some vanilla from the barrel-aging. Bit of hop balance toward the back end. This is an insanely delicious beer. It's a 12%+ barleywine, so yeah, the mouthfeel is somewhat syrupy but not in the least bit cloying. Just the right amount of carbonation.

O: I'm not even a huge barleywine fan, but more beers like this would change that. Certainly not something you'd drink multiples of in a sitting, but when you feel like splurging - and have a designated driver or are on your own couch - you can't go wrong here. Wonderful beer.

Photo of CJS
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of dsimmons
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of ubufan2112
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Beerrenda
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of 2dogbrew
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of TheBrewo
4.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This elusive brew was poured from the tap at the Renshaw Lounge in Clawson, Michigan. Huge thanks to Ashley P. for the heads up!! It arrived in a generic half sized snifter, showing a ruddy, rusty deep chocolate brown coloring, letting up more ruby hues of light towards the stem of the glass. It held a half finger tall head of coco colored cream, showing decent retention into a film across the top of the liquid and archipelago lacing across the glass. Carbonation appeared to be light and slow to rise, with no haze or sediment otherwise appreciated. The aroma was warming and delicious, giving notes of soy sauce and hot boozy bourbon fresh off the top, with a background symphony of raw molasses, licorice, salted biscuits, heavy oak, crushing buttery diacetyls, phenolic clove and medicinals, thick grainy bite of rye and caramel roast, and softer coffee malt chalkiness. With warmth came frank brandy and maraschino cherry fruitiness. Our first impression was in line with the nose in that the base flavoring fit comfortably into the bourbon county family, showing untouched barreling and a slightly sweeter and less sticky swill than the traditional stout or the likes of King Henry. As we sipped, the taste began with sticky plum sugars and roasted pudding, darkly cooked coffee, chocolate, and caramel maltiness, huge buttery diacetyls, sweet butterscotch, black pepper, and permanent marker phenols. The beer’s sweetness came to peak through the center of the swallow, with sweet honey, sugary candied coconut, olive oil meatiness, dark chocolate syrups, burnt toffee, dried brown grassiness, and ancient, dried and cracked oak barrels, with rusted copper around its edges. The end washed through with stark green apple acetaldehyde bite, gingerbread crumbles, cooled vanilla coffee, vinyl plastics, burnt rubbers, smoky leathers, fusel brandy and bourbon booziness, pear, plum, and cherry syrups, and the heaviest grit of caramel and bittered rye graininess. The aftertaste breathed of medicinals, oaked woodiness, fusel bourbon, darkly roasted coffee, caramel, and rye grain, black pepper, dirty licorice buttons, cheesy musk, diacetyls, toasted coconut, sour and soapy hoppiness, tobacco smokiness, chalked oak chips, cedar mulch, maple and honey sugars, and a base wheat breadiness. The body was thick and full through and through, while the carbonation was surprisingly medium to high. Each sip was silky smooth and heavily syrupy, giving wonderful slurp, smack, cream, froth, pull, and pop. The lips were left sweet and nearly granular with residual sugar, while the mouth was coated from end to end. This feeling dragged forever before slowly, slowly slipping away to leave a fleeting burn and prickle to the tongue, and a quiver to the cheek. The abv was appropriate, and the beer drank excellently as a sipper.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was its taste. Everything about this guy is just so, so rich and complex, with layers upon layers upon layers, as you would expect from the BC brand. The first big noticeable difference stylistically is how damn dark it is. It’s like black barleywine status, a la the Sierra Nevada black barleywine from a few years back. While each sip begins and peaks with bright sweetness, much like the standard bourbon county stout, it is through the end and aftertaste of the sip where this beer really begins to take its own unique form. The malts sweeten up with warmth, helping to create some cracks in the darkness of themselves, allowing for the fruit and inherent bitterness of booze and wood to shine through. This is where the true complexity of the beer lies, once it all begins to fall into place. The aroma, while intensely rich, roasty, and robust, and hinting at the darkness of the beer, doesn’t quite come to that same level of glory as the flavoring. Again, this is just a treat all around, and although it isn’t quite as sticky, dank, and “forever” as King Henry, we are extremely happy to have been able to track down and consume this beer, especially since we thought it was gone forever.

Photo of Roguer
4.46/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice firm tan head, ~1 finger, with excellent retention. Brew is a very dark brown, almost solid black in the glass.

Aroma of sweet bourbon drifts across from the opening of the bottle, and is the overwhelming note from the glass. Milky dark malts round out the nose. Despite the strength, the bourbon comes across very smooth.

Flavor follows the nose fairly closely, focusing on bourbon, with a milky, almost cocoa taste to the body. A sharper hop and malt balance rounds out the aftertaste, once everything else has faded enough to let it through.

Feel is full, thick, and chewy. Heck of a beer. It's lively without much sting, although there's a very noticeable alcohol burn. The bourbon provides the necessary balance and punch.

This is an outstanding beer, but I think the bourbon dominates vice compliments the character. To me, it doesn't taste much like a barleywine; those qualities mostly show up right at the end. That said, it's a very tasty strong ale with a focus on dark malts and bourbon, and it's absolutely delicious.

2013 vintage. I'm looking forward to aging the rest.

Photo of ac22rush
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of jb3304
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 3,724 ratings.